With my last long run (a 20-miler on Sunday) finally under my belt, I’m officially in taper mode for the Boston Marathon, which is quickly approaching on Monday, April 21. A “taper” is essentially a training phase in which you reduce weekly and long run mileage during the final few weeks leading up to a marathon to recover from previous workouts and rest up for peak race performance.
Despite the fact that I’m officially “tapering”, it’s still a tough training week. Yesterday morning, I had my second-to-last interval session, which was a set of 8 x 800 meters. I’ve found that interval sessions are even more mentally challenging than heading out for a 3-hour long run. But the benefits of interval training are undeniable. Bottom line—If you want to speed up your marathon time, you have to put in the speed work.
I am a firm believer in Yasso’s 10 x 800’s theory. Definitely the best marathon specific workout out there. I have no idea who Yasso is, but essentially you incorporate 800 meter intervals into your weekly training plan, eventually building to a final set of 10 x 800’s, two weeks before your race. Your target time for each interval in minutes and seconds should be the same as your target time for the marathon in hours and minutes. So if you hope to run a 3:20 marathon, then run each 800 repeat in 3 minutes, 20 seconds. If you can do 10 x 800's at that pace, then you're in good shape to reach your marathon goal on race day. And, holding all other things constant (most notably weather and health), I swear it works.
And that’s probably where I’d stop listening to me for marathon training advice. I've found that despite having completed 8 marathons, I'm still an idiot when it comes to training. I am the girl who ate two pop tarts before my long run on Sunday, did not bring any water along, and decided that it would be a good idea to “break-in” a new pair of running shoes that I had just bought that morning. Seriously. I don’t think marathon runners, or anyone over the age of 10 for that matter, eats pop tarts. And during the run, I found myself salivating over the water bottles that any passing runners were carrying along. I almost started eating snow, but couldn't quite bring myself to do it. It was so dirty. And the new shoes? Many blisters later, my feet finally seem to be recovering. Well, at least it can't get much worse on race day, can it?